In some quarters there has been an outcry that the punishment meted out to Steven Smith and David Warner for their leading part in the ball-tampering fiasco doesn't fit the crime.

According to the code of conduct, that would appear to be the case, with ball-tampering reading like a lesser crime than some others. However, such has been the outcry against this act of cheating that CA has in essence done the culprits a favour.

Their appearance in Australian colours next summer would have resulted in the fans venting their anger, which wouldn't have done their confidence or rehabilitation much good. It also wouldn't have done anything for CA's image to have two former captains badgered by the home crowd.

Australia's reaction to the poor judgement of Smith, Warner and Cameron Bancroft might appear excessive but it is fuelled by a few different factors.

Firstly, Australia's expectations when it comes to sport and especially cricket. The public demands high standards and this has resulted in the country having an exceptionally good record on the sporting field. There is also this unrealistic belief that Australian cricketers are above the underhanded tactics the public perceives some other countries stoop to in order to win. This image was shattered in Cape Town.

Secondly, England's coach, Trevor Bayliss, probably summed up the reputation of the Australian team best. He said: "It's almost like teams and people around the world have been waiting for them [Australia] to stuff up so they can lay the boot in."

Then there's the issue of the acrimonious dispute between the Australian players and CA over the most recent Memorandum of Understanding. In many quarters this was perceived as a group of millionaires holding out for even more money. The fact that Warner was one of the more voluble players in that dispute, and is now perceived as the ring leader in the tampering incident, would have only added fuel to the fire.

"Cricket has been heading down a slippery slope for a while, to the point where the credibility of the game has been severely shaken. Strong leadership is needed to correct this image but none has been forthcoming"

While the players have been severely punished, both cricket-wise and financially, and the coach, Darren Lehmann, has taken the only proper course of action and stood down, it's to be hoped they are not the only ones who pay a hefty price.

CA and the ICC have to accept some of the blame for the fact that cricketing behaviour worldwide has plummeted to these depths. They have consistently failed to halt the slide in on-field behaviour that has increasingly undermined the game's image. This is typical cricket administration - it takes a calamitous occurrence to make them react.

Then there's the reaction of the BCCI. Both Smith and Warner have not only relinquished their leadership roles in the upcoming IPL season, but they have also been banned by the Indian board from playing in it.

While this is a severe hit to their bank balance, it may also be sparing them the wrath of the Indian public, coming as it would have done so close on the heels of the ball-tampering scandal. It's also a welcome occurrence if it's a sign that the BCCI is cracking down on bad behaviour under its jurisdiction. Its governance in recent years has been less than inspiring, and if this latest move represents a shift in attitude among cricket administrators, then the Cape Town calamity won't have been a complete black hole.

Cricket has been heading down a slippery slope for a while, to the point where the credibility of the game has been severely shaken. Strong leadership is needed to correct this image but none has been forthcoming.

As always it's the administrators who either stuff up or are slow to react, and eventually the players suffer the consequences. In this case the remorseful players, Smith, Warner and Bancroft, have suffered an immediate backlash, but it will be the embarrassment that follows the stigma of cheating like an ever-present shadow that will cause the lingering pain.

Let's hope that this instance of incredibly poor judgement proves to be a wake-up call for cricket overall and not just the three Australian players.